The Las Vegas Raiders used the 19th overall selection in 2020’s draft to take cornerback Damon Arnette. They surely envisioned the Ohio State starting opposite of Trayvon Mullen. Nevertheless, due to a myriad of reasons, the rookie corner struggled in his first season in the NFL.
Damon Arnette didn’t fulfill expectations in his rookie season
Head coach Jon Gruden shared his current assessment of Arnette in a recent sit-down with the local media. He said the corner needs to get stronger and added that availability is a concern. Moving forward, he has to prove he can stay available but regardless of the reason, he had a disappointing rookie season. In the conference call, Gruden mentioned young players have to be available not just Sunday but throughout the week as well.
Arnette spent time on both the Injured Reserve and COVID-19/reserve lists in 2020. He broke his thumb early in the season and later caught the coronavirus. All in all, the Ohio State product missed seven games and played on just 32 percent of the team’s total snaps on defense in 2020.
The early returns aren’t encouraging for the Raiders
There are different ways to look at Arnette’s first season in the NFL. On one hand, injuries are an inherent part of the sports and he should get a full evaluation once he’s healthy. He still has room for growth and it’s too early to give up on him. However, the Raiders didn’t draft the cornerback to ride the bench. Teams expect their first-round picks to have an impact on the field and Texas native didn’t have much in 2020.
Arnette allowed 25 receptions on 32 targets for a 78.1 completion rate and didn’t log an interception. Moreover, he earned a measly 41.7 Pro Football Focus overall grade in 2020 and missed 12 tackles. On the bright side, he didn’t give up a touchdown.
While it’s too early to declare Arnette a wasted draft pick, his rookie season left much to be desired. If the cornerback wants to avoid getting the bust label, he will have to play significantly better in his sophomore campaign.
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Top Photo: John Bazemore/Associated Press